April 2015 Bar Bulletin
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April 2015 Bar Bulletin

Why Mentoring Matters and What the Bar Plans To Do About It

By Autumn Johnson and Eric Ferguson


Autumn on Being a Mentee

They have started referring to law students who graduated during the depths of the recession as the "lost generation." I am among this crop of students who started law school before the recession, but graduated after it had taken its toll on the legal industry.

I did not expect to have a solo practice a mere two years after graduation. I believe mentorship is beneficial for all young attorneys, but I think it is absolutely critical for those of us who wind up on our own so early in our careers.

I have been very fortunate when it comes to mentorship. I have participated in several formal mentorship programs. Specifically, I have had two mentors through Seattle University and one through the trial lawyers association.

Good mentors have opened doors I could not have even imagined. I had a wonderful mentor let me sit in on a deposition. I've had mentors review my website and even audit it for search engine optimization. These mentors sat down with me and talked to me about my practice, and offered insight and resources that may not have been available elsewhere.

I have also had the incredible luck of finding a mentor informally as well. Out of countless informational interviews came one priceless mentor: my co-author. Eric went over new areas of the law with me, helped me understand my first plea deal, shared forms with me, and he even went to court with me. This hands-on guidance was invaluable.

But I believe really great mentorship goes beyond the nuts and bolts. When you are on your own, sometimes you just need a sounding board or someone to give you a little confidence. This is the kind of thing you don't always find in formal programs that have set meeting times for a set duration.

Great mentors, like Eric, are selfless with their time. He spent countless hours, countless lunches with me just helping me strategize, plan and sometimes just vent; giving me the pep talk I needed to keep at it. Mentoring is time consuming, but it is so needed, so appreciated and so lacking in our industry.

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